The North End

The North End, Iona

The North End, Iona

9 March 2014
4:30 pm

Iona

T. —

I take my days off very seriously. This morning, I woke up at 7:30, but lay in bed until 9 with a book I found on the bookshelf in the common room (A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers), as well as the last dregs of my hot water bottle, now long cold. I knew as soon as I put my feet to the floor, the day would start, and the cold would rush in. Considering I have to be in the Abbey kitchen tomorrow by 9am, I saw no reason at all to get out of bed before that time today.

I met some of my housemates downstairs in various stages of their mornings. Skye is completing a 2000-piece jigsaw puzzle, so she is often sitting on the floor of the living room in front of the puzzle table with an intent focus. I forgot how much I like jigsaw puzzles — how much I like watching images emerge piece-by-piece, as so many different aspects come together.

Almut was finishing breakfast, Jenny was writing and about to go to the morning church service, and Madron and Wendy were elsewhere around the house — or around the island. Everyone is always somewhere, never too far away.

After breakfast, I took a walk to the North End of the island, turned left, and climbed down towards one of the beaches. Follow the directions to Traigh Ban and continue to walk west, past the north headland, staying on the machair, to the beautiful white sands of Traigh an t-Suidhe (Beach of the Seat). I took a seat there, actually, on a single wooden bench to write a few postcards. Just me, the sheep and the sand. The wind kicked up on my way home, and even though I was only out walking for an hour, it was far long enough for today.

We’ve had lunch now in the Abbey flat with three resident staff members, but I think I’ll be in for the rest of the evening. There’s a silent service on Sunday evenings that I might venture out into the cold to attend. Reminiscent of Sunday morning Quaker meetings. I’m interested to see what it will be like. Then, tomorrow: a bright and early start, to be in the kitchen for 9am.

I know there’s so much more to say, but I can’t think of it all now — I’ll have to start writing letters on the computer at the house, even without internet, and then post them up later. You’re right : there’s so much to say, trying to fit into a small space of accessible internet. It reminds me of the Sound of Iona: just a 1/2 mile stretch of water between Iona and Fionnphort on Mull. I never used to understand why it could be so turbulent, even more than the crossing from the mainland to Craignure, even more than some open water I’ve been on. Then, I read in a book somewhere: imagine the entire ocean throwing itself into the smallest passage. That’s where the force comes from.

So many lives on this island are dictated by the ferry crossing. Whether it will go today. What the waves look like. Who is coming over, and what can make it back to the mainland. I have no idea when the mail will go out again. So much depends on a small stretch of water, and the ferrymen who navigate it.

M

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